Harrods bombing

Harrods bombing
Part of The Troubles
Location Hans Crescent,
London, England
Date 17 December 1983
13:21 (UTC)
Target Harrods department store
Attack type Car bomb
Death(s) 6
(3 police officers, 3 civilians)
Injured 90
Perpetrator members of the Provisional IRA

The Harrods bombing was a car bombing that occurred at Harrods department store in London on 17 December 1983. The bomb had been planted by members of the Provisional IRA, although the IRA Army Council claimed that it had not authorised the attack. The IRA members had sent a warning 37 minutes beforehand, but the area was not evacuated. Six people were killed – three police officers and three civilians.

The same store was the target of a much smaller IRA bomb in January 1993.


1983 bombing

The bomb contained between 25 and 30 lb (14 kg) of explosives and was left in a 1972 blue Austin 1300 GT four door saloon with a black vinyl roof, registration KFP 252K.[1] It was parked outside the side entrance of Harrods, on Hans Crescent, and set to be detonated by a timer.

At 12:44, a man using an IRA codeword phoned the central London branch of the Samaritans.[1] The caller said there were bombs inside and outside Harrods, specifying the registration number of the car, but not its make or colour.[1] At about 13:21, four police officers in a car, a dog handler, and an officer on foot approached the car when the bomb went off.[1] The police car absorbed much of the blast, probably reducing other casualties.[1] Six people were killed; three passers-by (including one citizen of the United States), and three Metropolitan Police officers.[2][3]

Those killed were: Philip Geddes (journalist, 24); Kenneth Salvesen (28); Jasmine Cochrane-Patrick (25); Police Sergeant Noel Lane (28); and Police Constable Jane Arbuthnot (22). Police Inspector Stephen Dodd (34) was fatally injured and died on 24 December.[2] The dog handler, Police Constable Jon Gordon survived, but lost both legs and part of a hand in the blast. His police dog, Queenie, was also killed.

At the time of the first explosion, a second warning call was made by the IRA. The caller stated that a bomb had been left in the C&A department store on the east side of Oxford Street. Police cleared the area and cordoned it off but this claim was found to be false.[4]

IRA statement and response

In a statement, the IRA Army Council admitted that its members had planted the bomb, but claimed that it had not authorised the attack:

The Harrods operation was not authorised by the Irish Republican Army. We have taken immediate steps to ensure that there will be no repetition of this type of operation again. The volunteers involved gave a 40 minutes specific warning, which should have been adequate. But due to the inefficiency or failure of the Metropolitan Police, who boasted of foreknowledge of IRA activity, this warning did not result in an evacuation. We regret the civilian casualties, even though our expression of sympathy will be dismissed.[1]

Leon Brittan, the Home Secretary, commented: "The nature of a terrorist organisation is that those in it are not under disciplined control".[1]


There is now a memorial at the site of the blast.[5] Yearly prizes in the honour of Philip Geddes are awarded to aspiring journalists attending Oxford University. Also, every year the Philip Geddes Memorial Lecture on the theme of the future of journalism is given by a leading journalist.[6][7]

1993 bombing

On 28 January 1993, Harrods was once again targeted by the IRA: this time a package containing 1 lb of Semtex plastic explosive placed in a litter bin at the front of the store in Brompton Road. Four people were injured. The bomb smashed windows but did no internal damage.[8][9] Those responsible were Patrick Taylor, a 51-year-old former corporal of the British Army and a member of Red Action[citation needed] and Jan Hayes, a 41-year-old computer programmer with a degree in business studies from Central London Polytechnic.[9] In March 1993, police captured them at Hayes' home in Stoke Newington, north London.[10] They received prison sentences of 30 years.[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Bomb unauthorised says IRA The Guardian 19 December 1983
  2. ^ a b Sutton Index of Deaths CAIN Web Service (Conflict Archive on the Internet)
  3. ^ Northern Ireland: Thatcher letter to Reagan (outrage at Harrods IRA bomb) Margaret Thatcher Foundation website
  4. ^ On this Day BBC Report BBC website
  5. ^ Police City Themes London
  6. ^ Prize money for students rises to £2,500 Holdthefrontpage
  7. ^ PHILIP GEDDES MEMORIAL PRIZES 2005 Oxford University Gazette
  8. ^ Bennett, Will (1993-01-29). "Four hurt by IRA bomb outside Harrods - UK, News". London: The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/four-hurt-by-ira-bomb-outside-harrods-1481378.html. Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  9. ^ a b Geraghty, The Irish War: the hidden conflict between the IRA and British Intelligence, 163.
  10. ^ Mickolus, Terrorism, 1992-1995: a chronology of events and a selectively annotated bibliography, 282.
  11. ^ "'Proud' IRA bombers jailed for 30 years: Police remain mystified why two Englishmen, who had no apparent connections with Ireland, became terrorists". London: The Independent. 14 May 1994. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/proud-ira-bombers-jailed-for-30-years-police-remain-mystified-why-two-englishmen-who-had-no-apparent-connections-with-ireland-became-terrorists-stephen-ward-reports-1435755.html. Retrieved 17 December 2010. 


  • Mickolus, Edward (1997). Terrorism, 1992-1995: a chronology of events and a selectively annotated bibliography. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0313304688. 
  • Geraghty, Tony (2000). The Irish War: the hidden conflict between the IRA and British Intelligence. JHU Press. ISBN 0801864569. 

External links

Coordinates: 51°29′59″N 0°9′45″W / 51.49972°N 0.1625°W / 51.49972; -0.1625

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